ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



This book is impressive both in range of subject matter and in the sophisticated

high quality of analysis of issues covered. The work deserves to be highly commended

in that it clearly analyzes the key issues in contemporary Nigerian politics



Leadership without a Moral Purpose

A Critical Analysis of Nigerian Politics and Administration

(with emphasis on the Obasanjo Administration, 2003-2007)

By Victor E. Dike

Paperback: 510 pages, BookSurge Publishing, October 14, 2009



By Professor Christian Nwachukwu Okeke


Nigerians have endured untold economic hardship and misery over the years because of ‘leadership without a moral purpose.’ And the nightmare appears endless because the politicians, who have been preaching good governance, economic prosperity and democracy since the coming back of civilian rule in May 1999, are not effective “change agents.” They are not working for common good, but prefer the status quo, which enables them to amass wealth through deceit and intimidation. The direction of change in any society depends on how well national resources are mobilized by the leaders to improve the people’s living conditions and the people’s attitude and behavior toward change. With an in-depth study and analysis of the challenges facing contemporary Nigerian politics and administration in 14 Chapters, this 557-page book offers a solution to the problems. Each chapter presents both sides of the debate and allows readers to make their own judgments. It is hoped that this summary will give readers some sense of how the pieces fit together.

Chapter 1, “Leadership without a Moral Purpose,” kicks off the discussion by reviewing the main issues that are recurring decimals in the challenges of leadership in Nigeria. This book is built on a simple premise: That Nigeria’s political leaders are not concerned with how to strengthen the institutions and infrastructure and provide the necessary social amenities to improve the lives of the people, but on how to enrich themselves. Broadly, the goal is to understand historically the economic and philosophical aspects of democracy and to underscore the ramification of social conflicts on the political economy.

Chapter 2, “Political Parties and Elections in Nigeria: A Brief Overview,” discusses political parties without ideology and fraudulent elections that are the fundamental causes of the nation’s electoral nightmare, and how they affect the concept of democracy in Nigeria. Chapter 3, “Nigeria and the Politics of Unreason: Political Assassination and Decampment,” argues that political assassination and decampment that strewn the political landscape has retarded the development of true democracy in Nigeria. Chapter 4, “Political Godfatherism in Contemporary Nigerian Politics,” concentrates on the godfather phenomenon that assumed a dangerous dimension during the Obasanjo administration, Chapter 5, “Political Impeachment and the Obasanjo Administration,” deals with political impeachment and the uncertain environment, while Chapter 6, “National Political Reform Conference and the Third-Term Plot,” focuses on the national political reform conference that failed to build a new Nigeria, and the third-term plot that nearly derailed the nation’s democratic expedition. Taken together, the chapters argue that Nigeria’s defective electoral system produces leaders whose allegiance is for their godfathers, instead of the electorate on which democracy depends. That shows that leadership remains the enemy of the society.

Every chapter tackles a part of the problems facing Nigeria. Chapter 7, “Dimensions of Corruption and the Obasanjo Administration,” and Chapter 8, “Tackling the Root of Corruption in Nigeria: Alternative Strategies,” examine pandemic corruption (with particular reference to the Obasanjo Administration), its impact on the political economy and strategies to effectively tackle the menace. Despite the deafening trumpets on the war against corruption, bribery and high-profile corruption remain a daunting challenge for Nigeria. It is needless to repeat here the importance of visionary leadership and good governance. Chapter 9, “Governance and the Nigerian Economy,” extends the discussion and analysis to governance and illustrates how poor governance has combined with corruption to create a weak economy, high unemployment and inflation, poverty and rising crime, and a sham democracy.

Chapter 10, “Poverty and Daily Life in Contemporary Nigeria,” is another important section, which argues that the inability of the political leaders to grow the economy and empower the burgeoning population leads to harsh living condition and breeds vagrants that threaten lives and properties and scare away investors from the economy. Chapter 11, “Education and Nigeria’s Global Competitiveness,” discusses the dismal state of education and contends that good quality education is the foundation for every other development. It notes that competitiveness depends on productivity, which hinges on good quality education and proper skills. And good schools will produce good quality graduates, increase individual and national productivity and quality of goods and services; this leads to higher earnings and reduction in poverty, economic growth and development, and in turn, sharpens the nation’s global competitiveness. If a nation neglects its education sector, as Nigeria is doing now, the economy becomes unproductive with associated social crisis.

Chapter 12, “Political Economy of the Niger Delta Crisis,” continues the discussion on political economy. Lack of true federalism has contributed to the injustice in Nigeria, which has denied the people of Niger Delta the right to control and develop their God-given resources to finance community development projects. Thus, the inequity in resources allocation and systemic injustice that have subjected the people to economic hardship and misery prompted the agitation for resource control and youth militancy (it appears force is the only option to correct social injustice in Nigeria) in the region that could degenerate into a greater political and national security problem and cripple the economy if the root causes of the agitation are not amicably resolved. As the crisis deepens and as the key economic indicators look southwards, foreign and local investors would relocate their resources elsewhere.

Related to the Niger Delta crisis is Chapter 13, “Understanding and Managing Nigeria’s Security Challenges.” Nigeria’s acrimonious politics and fraudulent elections, disregard for rule of law and due process, lack of standards and spate of collapse buildings, poor emergency response and oil pipeline vandalism, poor infrastructure (bad roads and erratic electricity supply), rising unemployment and poverty, kidnapping for ransom, and of course high-profile corruption, are serious national security and public safety concern that affect Nigeria’s image, the economy and her democratic experiment.

This book concludes with Chapter 14, “Final Conclusions: Nigeria Needs Leadership with a Moral Purpose.” It argues that the present crop of political leaders –leaders without a moral purpose – will not take Nigeria to her final destination of true democracy and economic prosperity. Nigeria’s brand of “democracy” is likened to a person who is dressed up, but going nowhere. Anyone who still has faith in the political leaders must be crazy.

For Nigeria to make any meaningful social, political and economic progress there should be a paradigm shift (Thomas Kuhn and The Structure of Scientific Revolution) in the way the nation is governed. The future and stability of Nigeria depends on how the leaders and the people resolve the myriad burning issues in the society and improve the living conditions of the people. But this will not be possible without leadership with a moral purpose.

This book is impressive both in range of subject matter and in the sophisticated high quality of analysis of issues covered. The work deserves to be highly commended in that it clearly analyzes the key issues in contemporary Nigerian politics and administration (particularly during the eight years of Obasanjo administration). Nigeria has not fared any better under the current Yar’Adua administration that is devoid of goal and direction. The absurdities and paradoxes of the past persist with increasing social crisis. Although Leadership without a Moral Purpose does not pretend to have all the ‘medicines’ for Nigeria’s problems, it makes a significant contribution to better balanced understanding of the problems facing contemporary Nigerian politics and administration. This book, therefore, merits the attention of students, scholars, policy makers and general readers.

posted 24 November 2009

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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update 3 June 2012




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